Fraud complaints on the rise in Dayton region

The Dayton region last year saw a nearly 30 percent increase in fraud and other types of complaints to the Federal Trade Commission, according to agency data analyzed by this newspaper.

In 2017, the commission received 4,156 complaints about fraud and other kinds of consumer activities from people in the Dayton metro area, which consists of Montgomery, Greene and Miami counties.

Dayton ranked 47th on a list of the 100 largest U.S. metro areas for fraud complaints per capita (number of complaints divided by the population). Dayton’s rate was 519. The Atlanta region topped the list with a rate of 927.

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Three Ohio cities ranked higher on the list: Cleveland (581); Akron (563); and Youngstown (537).

U.S. consumers reported losing nearly $905 million to fraud in 2017, an increase of $63 million from the prior year. About one in five fraud reports indicated that money was lost.

The median loss for all fraud reports was $429 last year.

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Debt collection practices and scams were the most common type of fraud reported. Identity theft was second and imposter scams was third.

Imposter scams involve people pretending to be government officials, tech support representatives, loved ones in trouble or others in the hopes of getting money from consumers, the commission said.

Credit card fraud topped the list of identity theft reports. Many complainants said their information was misused on an existing account or was used to open a new credit card account, the commission said.

Most people who report fraud said they were contacted by phone.

Most people who lost money to fraud made payments using wire transfer. But there were $74 million in losses on credit cards, which could allow consumers to recover the money if they dispute the charges in a timely fashion, the commission said.

“While we received fewer overall complaints in 2017, consumers reported losing more money to fraud than they did the year before,” said Tom Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

One surprising detail of the commission’s annual report was that more younger people reported losing money to fraud than older individuals.

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